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The odds for Manchester City vs Paris Saint-Germain are provided by Unibet.
The visiting team’s star-studded frontline should be able to breach City’s backline, but the superior coherence of Pep Guardiola’s side could be decisive.
Back Manchester City to beat Paris Saint-Germain and both teams to score (+210)
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The questions keep on coming for Pep Guardiola. Whenever his side drop points unexpectedly, the Manchester City manager is asked whether he regrets the club’s failure to sign Harry Kane in the summer. When his team performs well and registers a victory, he is asked whether City’s performance proved they do not need an out-and-out center-forward. With six months of the season remaining, Guardiola can expect similar queries for a while longer yet.
There have certainly been times this term when the absence of a fixed focal point up top has served City well. The 5-1 victory over Club Brugge in the Champions League last month is a fine example. City’s fluid attacking play would not have been possible had their side included a static No.9 who waited for service inside the penalty area. In their most recent outing, a 3-0 victory over Everton in the Premier League on Sunday, City dominated with a 19-year-old midfielder, Cole Palmer, as their nominal striker.
Yet there are counterexamples. Take the 2-0 loss to PSG on matchday two of the Champions League back in September. City were the better team on the balance of play at the Parc des Princes. But their lack of a cutting edge in the final third meant they were unable to turn possession into goals. City had plenty of the ball but just could not find the back of the net against opponents who were happy to sit back and play on the counter-attack.
Wednesday’s return fixture will be a test of whether City have made any progress in that regard. Guardiola’s side will once again dominate possession, but they will need to be more incisive when they approach the penalty area. Guardiola will not want to be answering questions about the failed Kane transfer in his post-match press conference.
It is a mark of the high expectations at the Parc des Princes that there have been grumblings about Mauricio Pochettino’s performance as PSG manager this season. His side are top of Ligue 1 by an 11-point margin after just 14 rounds of fixtures, 12 of which have ended with PSG triumphant. They are on course to qualify for the knockout stage of the Champions League, having hitherto gone unbeaten in a tricky group containing Manchester City, Club Brugge and RB Leipzig.
Positive results at home and abroad have not spared Pochettino from criticism, though. That is because, in many of their matches this season, PSG have lacked balance and coherence. Their performances have often been unconvincing, and numerous games have been won by individual talent. Pochettino is approaching his first anniversary in the French capital and he has yet to get the team playing in his image.
Perhaps that is not the Argentine’s fault. He instituted a high-tempo, pressing game in his previous job at Tottenham Hotspur, but it is hard to produce a similar style when you have to pick Neymar, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe up front whenever they fit. Those three might be some of the finest soccer players on the planet, but none is particularly adept at closing down from the front. Pochettino is struggling to make this star-studded PSG team more than the sum of its parts.
Manchester City does not have an individual player who is on the same level as Neymar, Messi or Mbappe (the former could miss the game through injury, although he is still battling to be fit). But soccer is a team sport, and there is reason to believe that City’s superior collective will see them through.
The home team will control possession for large parts of the game and will need to be alert when the ball changes hands, but they look well placed to take advantage of the lack of compactness without the ball that has characterized many of PSG’s matches so far this season. If the Ligue 1 leaders switch off or prove unwilling to track runners, they are likely to be punished – regardless of the absence of a traditional goalscorer wearing a City shirt.
PSG have enough attacking quality to be confident about finding the back of the net. Even if they do not turn in a convincing all-round performance, one of the front three could easily produce a goal out of nothing. But Pochettino’s team are not used to coming under the sort of sustained pressure that any visitor to the Etihad Stadium must withstand. For that reason it is worth backing a home win and both teams to score.
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|Manchester City vs Paris Saint-Germain Information|
|Teams||Manchester City vs Paris Saint-Germain|
|Location||Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England|
|Time||Wednesday, 24 November 2021, 15.00 PM EST|
|How to watch||Paramount+|
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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